Review by Will Eldridge (Twitter: @willgeorgejourn)
Sam Allardyce was denied victory in his first match as Crystal Palace manager after Troy Deeney’s penalty earned Watford a 1-1 draw.
Yohan Cabaye’s first-half finish had given Palace the lead as they pursued only a fifth league win of the season, but the penalty that ended substitute Troy Deeney’s long wait for his 100th Watford goal delivered a reminder to Allardyce of the relegation battle which lies ahead.
It was Cabaye who provided Palace’s first true goal threat, in the 25th minute with a shot just wide of the left post after Benteke’s poor control conceded possession, and only a minute later the Frenchman had given the Eagles the lead.
Andros Townsend had done well to win the ball on the right wing before turning brilliantly and playing Cabaye through on goal, where with time and space he casually finished into the bottom left corner beyond the onrushing Gomes.
Cabaye had again shot just wide of the left post when, in the 37th minute, a poor back pass from Sebastian Prodl gifted the ball to Benteke, who was then brought down in the area by the exposed Gomes.
Watford had posed so little of an attacking threat that a second goal looked likely to prove decisive, but Benteke – completely lacking in any conviction – casually stroked the ball to the right and close to Gomes, giving the goalkeeper an easy save.
Palace needlessly allowed their hosts to pull level when, from a routine 70th-minute corner, Damien Delaney clumsily brought down Prodl to leave referee Mark Clattenburg with little choice but to award the game’s second penalty.
Substitute Deeney, who had gone his past 10 games without a goal and who unexpectedly had been left out of Walter Mazzarri’s starting eleven, then powerfully struck straight down the middle and beyond Wayne Hennessey who had dived to his left.
An increasingly scrappy second half ensured neither team could find a winning goal, leaving Palace with a record of one win in 11, and Watford with two in eight.